15 Foods That Will Boost Your Immune System

1. Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits are high in plant compounds that have health benefits, such as anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, which can help support your immunity. Vitamin C is thought to increase the production of white blood cells, which are key to fighting infections.

Almost all citrus fruits are high in vitamin C. With such a variety to choose from, it’s easy to add a squeeze of this vitamin to any meal.

Popular citrus fruits include:

Because your body doesn’t produce or store it, you need daily vitamin C for continued health. The recommended daily amount for most adults is:

  • 75 mg for women

  • 90 mg for men

If you opt for supplements, avoid taking more than 2,000 milligrams (mg) a day.

2. Red Bell Peppers

Citrus fruits aren't the only Vitamin C stars, ounce for ounce, red bell peppers contain almost 3 times as much vitamin C as anorange. They’re also a rich source of beta carotene.

Besides boosting your immune system, vitamin C may help you maintain healthy skin. Beta carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A, helps keep your eyes and skin healthy.

3. Broccoli

Broccoli is an incredible immune-boosting vegetable because it’s so rich in nutrients, It’s rich in antioxidants, vitamins A, C, E and potassium and has lots of healthy fiber, which makes it filling.

The key to reaping the powerful benefits of broccoli is to cook it as little as possible — or better yet, not at all. Research has shown that steaming is the best way to keep more nutrients in the food.

4. Garlic

Garlic contains compounds that naturally act to destroy bacteria and infection, which helps support your immune system. Research suggests that consuming garlic may help reduce the risk of becoming sick and staying ill.

Garlic’s immune-boosting properties are said to come from a heavy concentration of sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin.

5. Ginger

Ginger may help lower inflammation, which can help reduce a sore throat and inflammatory illnesses.

Many test-tube and animal studies suggest that ginger can enhance immune response. What's more, ginger has powerful antiviral and antibacterial properties

6. Spinach

Spinach gets all the credit as a superfood thanks to its high content of folate, vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber, magnesium, and iron. The nutrients in spinach boost immune function and provide the body with necessary nutrients for cell division and DNA repair. Reap maximum benefits from spinach by eating it raw or lightly cooked to preserve nutrients.

7. Yogurt

Low-fat yogurt can help meet your daily requirement for vitamin B12, vitamin D, and vitamin B2 (riboflavin). Adequate levels of vitamin D and other nutrients are necessary for strong immune function. Yogurt is rich in probiotics, including Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, and Bifidus. These strains boost immune function and may even help reduce both the length and severity of colds. Beneficial gut flora are needed for proper digestion, detoxification, and immune function.

8. Almonds

Almonds are rich in vitamin E, which research suggests is important for maintaining the immune system, particularly as we age. This is due to the fact that vitamin E is an antioxidant our immune system needs to function properly.

9. Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds are rich in phosphorous, magnesium, and vitamins B-6 and E.

Vitamin E is important in regulating and maintaining immune system function.

Sunflower seeds are also incredibly high in selenium. Just 1 ounce contains the selenium that the average adult needs daily. Several studies, mostly performed on animals, have looked at its potential to combat viral infections such as swine flu (H1N1).

10. Elderberry

Elderberrry is a shrub that has been used medicinally for centuries. Extracts of elderberry have antiviral, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory properties. Elderberry is also high in flavonoids. The plant medicine works by reducing swelling in mucus membranes. Some studies suggest elderberry extract reduces the duration of the flu. If it works for flu infections, it may help your immune system against coronavirus (COVID-19)infection.

11. Green Tea

It’s not just foods that help your immune system, drinks can too. The antioxidant EGCG, found in green teas (including matcha), inhibits the production of pro-inflammatory molecules, and is shown to have multiple actions on immune cell function.

12. Papaya

Papaya is special fruit loaded with vitamin C. You can find the daily recommended amount of vitamin C in a single medium fruit. Papayas also have a digestive enzyme called papain that has anti-inflammatory effects.

Papayas have good amounts of potassium, magnesium, and folate, all of which are beneficial to your overall health.

13. Pumpkin Seeds

These mighty seeds are a good source of zinc, a mineral crucial for immune cells to function and do their jobs properly.

About 1.5 ounces of pumpkin seeds provide about 20% of your daily requirement for zinc.

14. Dark Leafy Greens

Dark, leafy greens are great sources of beta carotene, which is associated with reducing inflammation and increasing disease-fighting cells, which help support your immunity.

Since beta carotene converts to the fat-soluble vitamin A, it’s a good idea to pair dark, leafy greens with a healthy fat, like nuts, for best absorption.

15. Turmeric

This bright yellow, bitter spice has been used for over 4000 years as an anti-inflammatory in treating both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Research shows that high concentrations of curcumin, which gives turmeric its distinctive color, can help decrease exercise-induced muscle damage. Curcumin has promise as an immune booster and an antiviral though more research is needed.

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